Circular Economy in Canada
Canada, specifically Ontario, has become the first jurisdiction in the Americas to enact a comprehensive circular economy law, the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 (“RRCEA”) (SO 2016 c. 12). Previously, waste diversion existed in Ontario under the Waste Diversion Act (“WDA”) (SO 2002, c 6), a government-managed scheme that was meant to oversee the diversion of target waste streams away from landfills. The WDA tasked Waste Diversion Ontario (“WDO”) to be the industry regulator, and the province designated industry-funded organizations (“IFOs”) as service providers to coordinate waste management activities for their respective industries. The fatal systemic flaw of this framework, however, was that these two bodies were placed between the “Producers” (namely the manufacturers, first importers, and brand owners) and the end-of-life supply chain. The RRCEA will allow the province to more effectively preserve and recover resources, divert materials from landfills, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from waste, with the overall aim of implementing a “circular economy.” Under the RRCEA, the Producers will be the primary resource recovery party, solely responsible for complying with the Ministry’s mandated obligations for resource recovery, with non-transferable liabilities. By naming the Producer as the operator of the product’s end-of-life (or “reverse”) supply chain, their decisions as to a product’s composition, content, and deconstruction attributes are now relevant to the waste management process—giving rise to an integrated circular economy market. Canada’s treatment of plastics gives interesting insight into how a circular economy might be implemented. Additionally, to address these requirements and liability issues, Producers are looking to Producer Responsibility Organizations (“PROs”) as waste management third parties to help address the new and often daunting obligations, as examined in this paper’s case study on the used tire industry in Ontario. To help implement RRCEA, Ontario has identified no less than 15 actions to help facilitate the smooth transition to a circular economy, with the express interest of creating scalable solutions which can then be mass-produced across North America.
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